DCSIMG

Marriage vote could lead to divorce for PM

1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA

1995 library filer of Chris Moncrieff. Photo by Peter Smith/PA

David Cameron is an impressive performer in the House of Commons. He regularly slaps down Labour leader Ed Miliband during their rowdy clashes once a week.

David Cameron is an impressive performer in the House of Commons. He regularly slaps down Labour leader Ed Miliband during their rowdy clashes once a week.

Tories cheer him to the rafters and wave their order papers with glee but that is just the theatre of it all. The reality behind the cheering is many Tories are highly suspicious of the Prime Minister’s motives.

Among other issues which raise their doubts is his campaign to secure legislation to legalise same-sex marriages. This view, as he has said more than once, is held “because I am a Conservative”. The Commons is holding a free vote on the issue this week and although more than 100 Conservative members will either vote against the Prime Minister’s wishes or abstain, Cameron, assured of Labour and Liberal Democrat support, will almost certainly win the day. But some traditional Tories - and Cameron ignores them at his peril - say the Government should be concentrating on the economy. It is sometimes argued that, in electoral terms, none of this matters because true Tories have nowhere else to go come polling day. That is no longer the case. UKIP has already attracted a substantial number of former Tory voters to its fold. No wonder some of those who are hugely disappointed with Cameron’s tactics and priorities are already sharpening their knives. Dumping a Tory leader who is also prime minister is not the easiest thing in the world. But Cameron needs to be reminded it is not impossible.

The Freedom of Information Act came into being amid a welcome fanfare. At last, people were saying, at least some of the obfuscation practised by politicians and bureaucrats will be swept aside.

Unfortunately, it would appear that, sometimes at least, when this legislation is applied to MPs, an excuse is found to reject a request for information. This is the latest example. Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, allegedly obtained funding for a charity, Booktrust, which is linked to his wife, Miriam.

This charity gives away books to promote reading among children. However, the Cabinet Office has refused to publish emails on the grounds publication would “prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs”. How could such publication possibly have this effect? Fortunately those public-spirited people who want this information are not letting the matter rest there. They are appealing against this decision.

Many will remember some MPs tried to exempt themselves from the machinations of this Act of Parliament (which they themselves passed!) to prevent disclosure of their dodgy expenses claims. That cosy little plan, thankfully, was thrown out of court. I would have thought public figures would wish it to be known they are innocent of using their powerful positions to secure advantages.

 

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